Lara Schaeffer
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Lara Schaeffer's Innovation: Guided Self-Assessment for Autism in Adults

Updated: Dec 18, 2022

Societal awareness of autism is increasing rapidly, which has brought an expanded knowledge of the varying presentations that autism can take in different people. These realizations include the understanding that many more females are autistic than had previously been thought, and that both male and female autistics mask or camouflage their symptoms and do not appear much (if at all) different from those who are not autistic.

Yet adult assessment for autism has been a challenge to obtain in America since before the Covid pandemic began in early 2020; the landscape is even more bleak for adults world-wide (with some exceptions in the U.K, Australia, and Canada). Both my own autism diagnosis experience in 2019, and the personal data from others internationally which I’ve gathered in the last six months, confirm the obstacles to adult autism assessment.

At the same time, undiagnosed autism poses extreme personal and social challenges to those affected. In addition to feeling not only out of place and unaccepted, but worse yet, simply WRONG in their daily existence, those with undiagnosed autism often distort their natural tendencies in order to mask, camouflage, and otherwise cover up qualities, behaviors, and natural reactions to their experience of their environment. These efforts are at best only partially effective, and regardless, lead to emotional exhaustion and crises of identity.

Long waiting lists for assessment appointments as well as fees which are often inaccessible are preventing many adults from determining whether or not they are autistic (while rates of autism diagnosis which have steadily risen in the last three decades imply that many may have been overlooked as children). If autism is not identified, major underlying sources of challenges will continue both unseen and unaddressed, and individuals miss out on the opportunity to understand their differences and how those differences affect them.

In response to these multi-faceted obstacles, I have opened up my services and now guide adults in informed self-assessment for autism. Guiding clients through widely used and well regarded evaluative processes and many of the same screening tools professionals use, I help those who wonder about their own relationship with autism come to a personal understanding of whether or not they are autistic.

The improved mental health and quality of life which has accompanied so many autistic adults’ realizations of their truth is what motivates me in this work. Ideally, unidentified autism can be recognized earlier and more adult autistics can begin healing and can start to enjoy lives of happiness and fulfillment.

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